To garner these statistics, the Sunlight Foundation employed the Flesch-Kincaid test, which determines at which grade level a person (in this case, member of Congress) is speaking. Sunlight states:
"At its core, Flesch-Kincaid equates higher grade levels with longer words and longer sentences. It is important to understand the limitations of this metric: it tells us nothing about the clarity or correctness of a passage of text."Therefore, this downgrade of Congressional diction could be seen as either a dumbing down of Congress or simply a more effective, succinct method of communication. Regardless of what this trend denotes, many other correlations emerge.Among Republicans, the more conservative a member of Congress is, the lower the level of his or her speech. Nevertheless, among Democrats, no such trend emerges.
So what does this all mean? Earlier this year, Obama's State of the Union Address recorded an eighth-grade level of speech for the third year in a row, well below the 10.7 average speech level of all prior 67 State of the Union addresses. Essentially, the State of the Union has now downgraded itself to the reading level of the average American.
How do you feel about this simplification of diction in Congress? And, more importantly, what do you think it reflects: a growing trend of stupidity in Congress, a growing need to connect with "Joe Six-Pack", or a streamlined method of communicating in politics? In other words, are you frustrated with the interminable, proletariarian nature of this eradication of the pedantic, or are you just angry?